This morning I woke up to Michigan Radio reporting that motorcycle fatalities are up 18% in the state since the repeal of the helmet law last year. I shook my head at the insane loss in the undeniable face of logic. For what? The wind in your hair? I am genuinely flummoxed.
By the end of the day, little more than 12 hours later, moments before I sit down to write this post, I have ridden a motorcycle home from school helmet-less.
Here’s what happened. I decided to stay at school until I had graded all of my students’ final dystopian literature projects. With the break coming up, I want the students to have my thoughts on their work before we all leave–plus I don’t want those projects hanging over my head while away. We will start fresh on the Monday we return.
When I leave the building, I glance at the clock and realize it is 9 p.m. I usually walk up the street to the grocery store for a taxi–as documented in a previous post–but the security guards at my school would not have it. Too late for a lady to be walking the streets.
I have not brought my helmet to school since a harrowing ride home 3 months ago. The ojek (motorcycle) driver inexplicably charged into on-coming traffic most of the way home, which left me fuming and vowing never to take another ojek again. I’ve gone out of my way to take exclusively taxis ever since.
This is not to say that I didn’t appreciate ojeks for their calculated danger, the contact with Indonesian people in this distinct way–pulling up alongside families stacked together on a single seat, weaving around trucks, getting spattered by mud, absorbing the misty air following the rain (like the campground smell after a fresh downpour), hanging onto the back of the seat (not the driver) . . . Yet the stakes, too illogically high.
When the guards insisted, I indicated I did not have a helmet. They said, “No problem.” Which I interpreted as, they had a helmet to borrow. No. At the point I realized this, one of the guards was already on his bike and it was socially too late to back out. Note, I was also in a pencil skirt–not ideal for sitting on a motorcycle.
On the main road–teeth chattering over gravelly sections of the newly repaved road, I envisioned myself flying off the bike–brain damaged and paralyzed–starting my new existence in an Indonesian hospital until my poor family would be sent to collect me. Horrifying.
We pulled into my neighborhood, my shoulders tense and my hair windblown every which way. The cool night air–a pleasant evening in beautiful rainy season–I breathed in the fragrant air that taxis separate their passengers from with metal and glass.
With as much dignity as possible, I dismount the motorbike–my pencil skirt aghast at its role in this indignity. Pay the gentleman who successfully saved a lady from the dangers of walking the sidewalk to a taxi after 9 p.m.
At this point, I can think of nothing but the cream bath appointment for tomorrow when the person who will be assigned to massage my neck and shoulders will ask me to “relax,” not realizing the density of stress they are working through.
Note: This may be my last post for awhile since I leave for break to a destination which may not have reliable internet. I will attempt to stay in the Slice of Life game, but if not, this is the reason.